“ Address: Wellington Road / Wokingham / Berkshire / RG40 2NJ „
I had never taken my girls bowling before but decided a few weeks ago that as it was the Easter Holidays it would be a nice treat. Therefore with a couple of friends we booked a lane at The Big Apple in Wokingham which is our nearest ten pin bowling alley. It is situated close to the centre of Wokingham on the same site as Carnival Swimming Pool, Burger King and a nightclub the name of which escapes me. There is a big car park which obviously there needs to be for all of those amenities. You do have to pay to park but if you are using the bowling alley or the swimming pool, your car park fee is refunded when you pay your entry fee.
The girls were very excited all day at the prospect of bowling and their excitement continued when we got there. It is a bit unfortunate that the moment you walk in you meet tons of bright garish noisy arcade games and slot machines. My girls thought they were in heaven until their mean mummy said that they weren't going on any of these! I do wish that these sorts of places didn't have so many of these machines but I guess it's just another way to make money. The thing is though, that if you are going to be taking young children to such places, you don't really want to expose them to these. (anyway that's just a small gripe)
We went on a Thursday afternoon in the school holidays and it was busy but not too busy. We had booked a lane in advance which I think was a wise move because most lanes did seem to be being used. The pricing system tends to take a bit of working out as it does depend on age, time and how many games that you play. We paid £14.95 for a family ticket which enabled four people to play one game. Had we paid for two games though we would have paid £26.95 which would have actually made each game a little less expensive. These prices are dependent on at least one person in that number being a junior although in our case all four were. The normal junior price (14 years and under) is £3.95 per game compared with the adult price of £4.95. There is an early riser price of £2.95 at the weekend and also if you play a third game that only costs £1.95. So as you can see it's actually quite complicated to work out the cost of any one player!
Anyway we opted for one game for four children which took about an hour.
Not having been to a bowling alley for a long time, I had memories of them being very dark and loud but this was not the case. It felt clean and airy and I'm sure that it definitely benefits from the smoking ban!
The children were all provided with their bowling shoes and there was no difficulty with sizes. The shoes are all sprayed on return so that they are clean and fresh for the next user. The lane was set up for us including having the children's names entered into the computerised scoreboards. We also had a lane which had the barriers up at the side meaning that the children's bowling efforts were not likely to fall off down the sides. They also provide a metal chute that children can use which helps them to aim and gives the bowl some momentum as it sets off. THere are also plenty of different weight bowls which are returned magically by a long conveyor belt! These things really helped the children to have a successful game of bowls even scoring a couple of spares between them!
There is a cafe at the Big Apple just serving drinks and snacks. There is also a bar but that did not seem to be open during the day. It does offer the opportunities to hold children's parties there and at £10.95 per head for an hour of bowling, party food, party bags, photos, invitations and money off vouchers I think we will definitely be considering this for future parties.
Overall, I was quite impressed with The Big Apple and it was a good place to take my young daughters to give them their first bowling experience. It was clean and not too noisy but I suspect it probably has a bit of a different atmosphere in the evenings. The staff were efficient and friendly but they also provide you with some good guidance about safety.
Bowling can work out quite expensive though so I think it's a place that we will restrict for special treats!
An amusement centre for the entire family. The facility boasts: ten pin bowling, laserquest, soft play for children, amusement arcades, party rooms, American pool and much more.